October 9, 2023

Kingston Mayor pushing for vibrant downtown

article reposted by Chelsea

via jamaicaobserver.com

KINGSTON Mayor Delroy Williams says he has a vision to see a greater number of entertainment spots and other businesses in downtown Kingston opening until later hours, to increase vibrancy in the capital city.

Williams told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview that although Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) does not have access to a wad of resources at the moment to engage in widescale beautification projects, it is still managing to execute a positive transformation of downtown, little by little.

The mayor explained that the municipality has embarked on a major mural and road-bricking project, to boost aesthetics in the space, which he said has already been contributing to an increase in business activity for many people.

“Right now Kingston Creative hosts an event in the space but we want other groups to come in and use the space for various purposes. When we speak to restaurant and bar owners, they have been very clear that business has gone up for them. They have seen a significant increase in their own business activities as a result of the fact that we are enhancing the space; and more people are coming into the space to take photos, do music videos, and to just to walk. More people are walking on the streets,” Williams said.

“I used to work downtown and I think most people avoided the back streets. Now, more people are using the streets because they look good. Because more people are using it for various purposes, people who work in the downtown space are getting more comfortable walking on those back streets. There is some sign that some of these businesses are opening late. One time, by 6:00 pm people’s [businesses would be] closed up. There are some bars that are opened up to midnight, and some people are even opening later and later,” Williams added.

The mayor said the murals KSAMC has been creating in downtown Kingston primarily depict Kingston’s musical history.

“The Kingston Creative group has done some murals but the ones done by the KSAMC are primarily geared to music and honouring those who have contributed significantly to the music, such as Milly Small who was the first Jamaican to hit the top 10 chart in the UK with My Boy Lollipop. We have Desmond Dekker who was the first Jamaican artiste to hit the top ten charts in the US with…Israelites. Then we have other major artistes like Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Sister Nancy and all the others.

“Right now we are at a section of Church Street, between Barry Street heading towards Ocean Boulevard. We are planting trees and we are also enhancing the space by putting in planter boxes, a green wall, garden wall, and flag poles. We are also going to brick the area; the idea is to keep expanding the project. After we’re finished with Church Street we’ll move into sections of Tower Street, King Street, and Peters Lane. Eventually that will tie into central government’s transformation project for the waterfront. The municipality is also transforming the entire Parade space.”

The mayor pointed out that the road-bricking of a section of Church Street — between Barry Street and Harbour Street — to enhance the streetscape and as part of the downtown transformation will get underway in less than two weeks. He warned the public that vehicular traffic will be rerouted and that there will be some inconvenience.

“We’ll commence shortly. The idea is to do it as quickly as we can so that we don’t cause a long period of inconvenience. It will cause some amount of inconvenience [but] not a lot,” he said.

A big part of the vision that Williams has is to see tourists flock Kingston, and not just the rural parishes popular for resort tourism.

“There is work to be done because the tourism sector doesn’t really focus a lot in Kingston but [yet] Kingston has its name internationally because of sports, entertainment and arts. You really don’t get a complete experience of Jamaica’s culture if you don’t experience Kingston, that is our view. Kingston is where Jamaican culture is at its fullest. We think Kingston can do well as a tourist destination city,” Williams said.

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